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You or your child wake up in the morning and you sound a little hoarse and hacky.
You’re not sure if it’s just the dry air or if you’re coming down with something. Over-the-counter cough medicines do not work and you’re a natural mama anyway, so what do you do?
Herbs work beautifully for quieting coughs and soothing dry, irritated throats. Herbal syrups are an easy way to replace those ineffective OTC meds and really nourish the body while it heals.
The herbs I chose to use for this syrup are safe for children and adults but should not be used by pregnant or lactating mothers. If you leave out the licorice root (also not safe for those with hypertension or on blood pressure medication) it will be fine to take while breastfeeding but I still would avoid while pregnant. Here is a list of contraindicated herbs.
Mullein is one of my favorite herbs for coughs. It helps clear mucus from the respiratory system and clear lung congestion. It is also an anti-viral herb that may help prevent and lessen duration of cold/flu viruses, etc.
Marshmallow Root is another demulcent herb which means it soothes mucus membranes. It’s really great for dry coughs because it moistens the passageways of the throat. I use it in many of my teas as well.
Licorice Root has been used for hundreds of years and has many well-documented uses. It’s wonderful for infections and inflammation. It is an expectorant which is the main reason for adding it to a cough syrup.
Thyme is also an expectorant herbs and helps to clear bronchial passageways. The flavonoids in thyme make it an effective anti-spasdomic herb, especially good for coughing spells. It’s also antiseptic and wonderful for throat infections.
Angelica Root is warming and stimulating to the lungs and can help ease chest congestion. It is an expectorant and will help the cough be more productive.
Anise Seeds are used to break up congestion. They are great for deep, chesty, bronchial coughs. They are a wonderful expectorant.
Burdock Root reduces inflammation and calms sore throats. It is also mildly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Slippery Elm Bark acts as a mild pain reliever, especially from sore throats which sometimes trigger coughs. It’s a popular remedy for throat and bronchial irritations.
Wild Cherry Bark is a staple in every herbal cough remedy I’ve seen. It really helps calm a cough to the point of allowing restful, cough-free sleep. It’s especially great for dry, hacking coughs that you just can’t seem to shake.
Some other herbs that could be added to this cough syrup are lobelia and coltsfoot. I didn’t have them on-hand so I left them out. Here is where I buy most of my herbs.
I do sell this in my online shop if you prefer to purchase rather than make it yourself.
Here’s to getting rid of that cough!
Herbal Cough Syrup
Author: Sarah Outlaw @RealFoodOutlaws
Recipe type: Herbal Remedy
Adapted from an Aviva Romm recipe. Use organic or wild-crafted herbs.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical practitioner. Nothing in my posts should be construed as medical advice nor am I responsible for any misuse of herbs. Please educate yourself when using herbs and research any contraindications or interactions especially if taking prescription medication or if pregnant or breastfeeding. For example, people with autoimmune conditions should check with their preferably natural health provider before using immune system stimulating herbs. Use common sense.
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Elderberry Syrup is one of my favorite cold and flu preventatives and also my go-to remedy to soothe a cold or flu that has already arrived. It is fantastic for coughs as well. It is very inexpensive and so easy to make yourself. A quart of it costs about $5 to make at home versus the upwards of $9 per 4 ounces you will pay at a health food store.
Black Elderberries, or Sambucus Nigra, have been used for thousands of years to strengthen the immune system. They are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Elderberry Syrup can be taken daily as a tonic and dosage increased when one is ill.
I use the recipe from Rosemary Gladstar from her book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health”, but there are many variations to making this syrup. I added comments where needed. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled!
Caution: Use only blue elderberries; the red ones are potentially toxic if eaten in large quantities. Never eat elderberries that haven’t been cooked first.
Another word of caution – Elderberry stains….everything! Be careful!
*Because I use raw honey, I do not reduce further after adding because it will kill the enzymes in the honey. Reduce prior to adding the honey or use sugar(evaporated cane sugar).
You can also add freshly grated ginger to this recipe for added medicinal benefits.
I usually give my kids, toddler and up about a tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. I take 2 tablespoons daily.
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I posted an elderberry recipe awhile back that I used for a few years and loved. I have revamped the recipe and rather than update the old one I thought it would be more effective to rewrite. That post talks a little bit about the benefits of elderberry but you can also visit Herbwisdom for additional information.
There are literally thousands of websites that talk about elderberries. They are that awesome!
Elderberry on its own is a very powerful immune booster but combined with spices it can be even more powerful. I am still using dried elderberries for my recipes. They are easy for me to obtain and they work great. They may not be as potent as fresh but they serve their purpose dried.
Elderberries just placed into water. Some look red because of the water and lighting. There is nothing in the pot but black elderberries.
Adding elder flowers to the syrup can help you sweat out a fever.
Ginger is a wonderful immune system activator all on its on. It also great for digestive issues that often accompany colds and flu.
Cloves are a multi-tasking spice. They help colds and flu while also relieving nausea and other stomach issues. They have analgesic properties as well.
Cinnamon is very warming and also carminative which means it helps with gastric issues
Lemon is full of vitamin C and promotes immunity and fights infection
Honey, oh wonderful honey! I used to use sugar because I felt that honey is a medicine all on its own. While that is true, I now think that adding honey to the elderberry add something really special. It is full of enzymes and helps with coughs. It also helps thicken the syrup beautifully
Please note that if you want to make a shelf-stable version that does not need refrigeration you must use sugar, and a lot of it. You need to can it so it is sealed. For information on how to do this, please see PureCajunSunshine. The directions there are wonderful as well as the information about elderberries provided!
We take about a tablespoon daily in my home during cold and flu season as a preventative with one or two day breaks here and there. I put suggested dosage amounts during illness in the recipe below. If you are pregnant or nursing the minimum dose would be appropriate. I personally take elderberry during pregnancy and while nursing.